Third International Symposium on
Academic Writing and Critical Thinking
The Interactive Presenter:
Using Conversation Analysis to Improve Presentation Skills
There is nothing simple about giving a presentation to an audience. From its verbal and non-verbal aspects to designing your presentation so that your audience can understand it, doing a presentation is an activity rich with interactional resources that presenters should be actively utilising. It might be, however, that presenters are not fully utilising these interactional resources. The aim of this paper is to examine how presenters can use interactional resources to increase displayed engagement with their audience. The key to this is to remove ourselves from an “information-giving mindset” and to instead adopt an “interactive mindset” for presentations. Using findings and key concepts from an approach to natural-occurring interaction called “Conversation Analysis”, I focus on one interactional resource – gaze. I will discuss how gaze is used in both conversations and presentations in regards to engagement and disengagement. I will argue that getting students to think about the interactive nature of a presentation, which is akin to a conversation, is a useful way for developing better presentation skills. It reminds us that presentations are done for our audiences and not done for merely sprouting information. The consequence of this will be increased engagement with the audience and a more successfully delivered presentation. I hope to show that far from being a just monologue, presentations share features with our everyday, mundane conversations that we can take advantage of for our presentations.
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